The Nashville Predators raised three banners in Bridgestone Arena rafters Tuesday night.
Then they laid an egg on the ice.
With a 3-0 loss to the Calgary Flames, the Preds did not leave the home crowd with much to cheer about, despite the celebratory mood in the building before the game.
— AtoZSports Nashville (@AtoZSports) October 10, 2018
Let’s dive into this one.
Early Injury Leads To Chaos
The biggest story in this game early on was Viktor Arvidsson leaving the game after getting hit with the puck in the face. His departure created chaos in the forward lines and the Preds looked rattled.
Arvidsson provides much needed energy at the top of the lineup. Without it, the Preds were struggling to get any pressure on the Flames in their own zone.
The Flames scored first on the power play. Elias Lindholm scored on a one time pass from Johnny Gaudreau to make it 1-0. It was a brilliant play by Gaudreau and Pekka Rinne had no chance.
With no Arvy and no momentum, the Preds did well to end the 1st period only down 1-0.
Arvidsson finally returned in the 2nd period, but not before the Flames made it 2-0 on a power play goal by Sean Monahan. Another penalty, another goal allowed by the Preds.
Later in the 2nd, the Preds caught a break but still couldn’t score. The Flames sent two guys to the box for tripping, giving the Preds a 5-on-3 power play. But Mike Smith made several saves on the doorstep, keeping them off the board.
That might have been the moment the Preds lost the game. Not scoring a two man advantage in front of your home crowd can be a back breaker.
Then in the 3rd period, a late pinch by P.K. Subban led to a 2-on-1 the other way and Sean Monahan made the Preds pay. He slid the puck by Rinne, who was playing the pass, to make it 3-0 with 19:27 to play.
From there, the Preds applied some pressure on Mike Smith, getting plenty of quality looks late. But Mike Smith found another gear and kept them out of the net.
This game felt an awful lot like Game 7 against the Winnipeg Jets, except for the part where Pekka Rinne imploded. Rinne was fine tonight, the rest of the team was not.
The whole 1st period was a cluster, with Arvidsson’s injury being the catalyst. No one looked comfortable with the puck and there was very little tactical strength at either end of the ice. Arvidsson provides so much energy to the team on offense and defense, without it the Preds looked lost.
Then when the Flames tried to hand the Preds a bit of momentum in the form of a 5-on-3 power play, the Preds couldn’t get anything going. Special teams were a disaster for the Preds tonight, going 2 for 4 on the penalty kill and 0 for 2 on the power play.
Give credit to Mike Smith for playing well for the Flames. He stopped 43 shots and earned a big road shutout. Give credit also to the Flames defense, who protected their goalie when it mattered. Smith certainly gave up some rebounds, but the Preds could not get clean looks at the puck.
All in all, it was a disappointing night for the Nashville Predators, but I’m not sure it’s a sign of doom. After recovering from the Viktor Arvidsson energy, they did some good things in the offensive zone, they just couldn’t finish. With a bit more shooting practice and hard work at positioning in the front of the net, the Preds should be ok.
— Image via USA Today —